The Protection of Immigrants at Ellis Island and Port of New York
Newly Arrived Immigrants at Ellis Island Awaiting Examination. Underwood & Underwood [1890s]. Library of Congress # 2017660810. GGA Image ID # 1482a1ee41
TRANSPORTATION (Note 1)
Section 153, Subd. 5. " The Commissioner of Labor shall investigate conditions prevailing at the various places where aliens are landed within this State and at the several docks, ferries, railway stations and on trains and boats therein, and in cooperation with the proper authorities afford them protection against frauds, crimes and exploitations."
TRANSIT CONDITIONS IN NEW YORK CITY.
The most difficult problems with which the Bureau has had to deal concern the transit facilities of aliens passing through New York City via, the port of New York. In the course of this investigation, nineteen inspections have been made of conditions prevailing on docks, nine of rail terminal and a number of steamers have been met at Quarantine, through the courtesy of the Surveyor of the Port, and the system of distribution studied throughout the city from Quarantine to the terminals.
Seventy-one records of Hoboken investigations, where New York has no jurisdiction, were also placed at the disposal of the Bureau by the New Jersey Committee of the North American Civic League for Immigrants.
It is necessary to describe the prevailing system to understand the difficulties and proposed remedies.
Departing Aliens, or East Bound Traffic
From October to February there is a heavy east-bound passenger movement of aliens returning to their home country. In 1909 there departed from the port of New York, 103,002 immigrant aliens, and 132,221 non-immigrant aliens. While a large percentage were residents of the city at the time of sailing, a very great number came from inland points, especially from camps, small towns, and cities throughout the country.
Located in these centers are steamship ticket agents, who sell not only the rail ticket to New York, but wherever possible, the steamship ticket which is good for passage when stamped at the general office or dock of the line over which it is sold. Some of these agents also sell, or lead the alien to believe he has paid for, his lodging, 'baggage transfer and guide service to the hotel and dock in New York City.
He is told that the amount paid covers everything, that he will have no further trouble getting aboard the steamer, for he will be met at the station. To assure this, he is given a end or button with the name or hotel on it, or told that his name will be called out at the station in New York City, and he is to go with the man claiming him when his name is called. Some agents do not get the money for New York City hotel accommodations and services, but direct persons to hotels.
It is also a common practice for agents, instead of giving to the alien the steamship ticket purchased by hint, to send it on to the hotel-keeper, thus requiring the alien to go there to get his property. Where a steamship ticket is not sold in the interior, but the alien prefers to wait until he reaches New York .City, he has usually been in correspondence with an agent in the city, and frequently an advance deposit of $2 to $5 is sent on to reserve space. This is done even when there is little or no demand for space.
The relations between steamship ticket agents and hotel men are very close. In New York City and large central and western cities, one person usually acts as both ticket agent and hotel-keeper and they exchange business— the eastern agent selling the rail ticket and directing the alien to the central or western hotel, the agent in the latter places selling the transportation and directing the east bound alien to the eastern hotel.
The alien is always encouraged to go to a hotel even when his vessel sails upon the same day he arrives. The hotel is thus in charge of his transit from the rail lines to the docks. Some hotel men pay commissions of fifty cents to $1 to ticket agents for sending passengers to them, and local agents are sometimes appointed by traveling steamship agents on condition that they patronize certain hotels in which the agents are interested. This is not ordinarily done with the knowledge of the steamship officials.
Each New York City rail terminal has an immigrant agent who takes charge of arriving and departing aliens. Those having the card or button of some hotel, or whose name the hotel has received in advance are called consigned passengers; those having no address are called unconsigned passengers.
The runners for the various hotels to which aliens are consigned by inland agents, are supposed to meet all trains, and especially when they are notified that passengers are arriving for them. The immigrant agent turns the consigned passengers over to the runner claiming them. When unconsigned passengers arrive, not having selected a hotel or purchased a ticket, they are given by the immigrant agent to the runner selected by the agent, according to any method he may adopt.
Immigrants who refuse to be directed to any hotel, are left to the mercy of the dozens of runners and porters who collect outside the station and demand their baggage. It is not uncommon for an immigrant to be accosted a dozen times in a block or two and his address and baggage demanded or taken away.
As soon as these immigrants are in. the hands of the runners, either hotel or city. runners, the first thing the runner does is to take away their steamship tickets and baggage checks, which are retained or turned in M the hotel until the immigrants go to the dock or are on board the ship.
The dissatisfied or mistreated immigrant, or one who has been sent to the wrong hotel, has therefore little opportunity for redress before sailing, with his property fast in the possession of the hotel or of the runners. The runners employed by these hotels usually work on a commission, are ordinarily not bonded or licensed, and have the immigrant and his property at their mercy.
In one instance an immigrant was declined for three days because on the morning of sailing the hotel runner had his steamship ticket in his pocket and had been called to court.
Consider for a moment the likelihood of an alien never reaching the hotel to which he is consigned by reason of this defective system of identification and of transit. The competition between the hotels is so great that in some instances their agents board the trains and take away the tags or cards or buttons of one hotel and substitute others. It is known that some agents, in order to get the commission paid by the hotels, give the immigrants more than one address or card.
Runners sometimes represent several hotels and take the passenger to the hotel which pays the highest commission, or they sometimes claim passengers on the promise that they will take them to the hotel they have asked for and then leave them at other hotels. If the train be late and no runner is there the alien must find his own way.
Where advance payments have been made to cover New York City charges, the failure of an immigrant to connect with the right hotel means the loss, not only of his advance payment for the ticket, but delay which very frequently causes him to lose his boat. It sometimes happens that too many tickets are sold for a steamer and the immigrant is delayed awaiting an adjustment or transfer to another steamer. Under such contingencies the distribution of immigrants to the various hotels by the railroad immigration agent is a matter of great importance.
The Coastwise and Hudson river lines, having terminals in New York City, do not even provide an immigrant agent, and while an attempt is made to keep runners, porters and expressmen off the docks, immigrants become the prey of these men. as soon as they leave, and the exploitation is widespread. No attempt whatever was made to safeguard these aliens and their property, although thousands are carried each year, until the Fall River Line granted to the North American Civic League for Immigrants the privilege of making the experiment of conducting immigrants.
Incoming Aliens or West Bound Traffic.
In the transportation of incoming aliens the same and additional difficulties are prevalent. With the distribution of through steerage passengers from Ellis Island, the Bureau has not concerned itself. The railways, through the clearing house maintained there, promptly route and rate the passengers, and the Federal Government, by agreement with the various roads and coastwise lines, has developed a system by which aliens are promptly delivered at the terminals and protected until they leave.
There is one exception, the McDonnell agency, representing the Old Dominion Steamship Co., and the Ontario 8. Western Railway. This agency is still permitted to bring through steerage passengers to New York instead of sending them directly to their destination. The establishment of the Immigrant Guide and Transfer by the North American Civic League for Immigrants, has made it possible for any alien destined to New York City, who desires safe delivery to his address, to avail himself of its services for a nominal charge.
A number of philanthropies also have agents at Ellis Island who assist persons of their own race or creed to points within the city. The prosecutions of runners, porters and cabmen, and the increase of police protection at the Barge office (all brought about by the North American Civic League for Immigrants) have to a great extent eliminated the evils at the Battery, and the Bureau has been able to give its attention to other phases of the subject. (Note 2)
The system of transportation of second cabin passengers is, however, no better than that for the east bound alien. In 1910 there arrived of the port of New York 137,288 second cabin passengers, which gives some idea of the importance of this business to emigrant hotels.
When the second cabin passenger buys his steamship ticket he frequently purchases a rail order to his final destination in this country, the latter being sold on the other side at an immigrant rate, similar to that given the steerage passenger. Agents on the other side have much the same interest in hotels in New York City that agents in the interior have, and consign the passengers to hotels. On board the vessel or on the docks this steamship order is taken up by a steamship agent or rail line agent for the purpose of exchanging it for a rail order.
The second cabin immigrant, however, is denied the rate paid by him on the other side. unless he actually goes over to Ellis Island to obtain his ticket, which he is assured will take time and cause delay. He, therefore, almost invariably pays the difference in pries on the dock.
The runners of the various emigrant hotels then take away his ticket and his baggage checks, just as they do at the stations with east bound aliens, and he is escorted to the hotel. It does not matter if his train leaves in half an hour and he has just time to make it or not; he must go to the hotel, for at least one-meal and a night if possible. The hotel when it has had its tithe, usually sends a runner with the passenger to the station who sees that his rail order is exchanged and that he gets aboard.
Unconsigned second cabin passengers who refuse to go to hotels, are the prey of runners and porters, cabmen and expressman, who literally pounce upon them as soon as they are on the docks and carry off their baggage and tickets. When the steamship agent sells a rail order on board on the way from Quarantine, or when the rail agent sells it on the docks, he immediately leaves the purchaser to the outsider.
The rail agents have no regular stand where they can be found, but mingle with the passengers on the dock. There is no bureau of information. If it is late at night no one informs the aliens that they can stay on board. Furthermore, while the foremen of the gangs of checkers are steadily employed on salaries, the checkers get twenty-five cents an hour and work for two or three hours on a boat.
Then they go to another. This method results in hiring men who are idle part of the time and are poorly paid. These are the men A, advise the immigrants where to go or turn them over to their porter, runner or cabman friends, with whom they later loaf in the nearest saloon on the proceeds the immigrant has " given up" the day or night before.
Three of the lines have a guide service operated by a private banker at the New Jersey docks. This service has prevented many abuses, but as the guides of this company must compete with all others on the docks during the rush of landing passengers, the experiment has been only partly successful.
A number of philanthropies have representatives on the docks to meet incoming second cabin passengers, chiefly those destined to the city, but they are wholly inadequate in their competition with the business interests represented.
It will be observed that the only direct system of transportation across New York City between the steamship and rail lines for their own through passengers, either east or west bound, is in the hands of hotels and their runners whose only profit necessarily
depends on delay and detention. The transportation lines disclaim all responsibility for what happens to a passenger from the time he gets off the docks until he enters the train and vice versa, on the theory that their responsibility ceases when the passenger leaves their boat or train.
The delivery of passengers is not the only problem. Ordinarily, even when an east bound alien has a steamship ticket on a given vessel and line, his baggage is checked only to the rail or coastwise line terminal, giving the hotel or city expressmen a chance to charge for delivery. The check once in possession of the porters and expressmen, the alien is powerless. It not infrequently happens that the check may get into the hands of one hotel runner and the alien and his ticket into the hands of another. In such a case the alien frequently misses his boat just because the two are fighting over the hotel to which he belongs.
There is another evil. New York City ordinances prescribe the rate for baggage transfer, but permit a special rate to be made between the owner of the baggage and the expressmen. Although the alien may sail on the same day of arrival or the next day, he is usually charged the special rate and is told a special trip must be made to the docks. This is done in many instances where the expressman has a half or a whole day in which to deliver the .baggage. It is no uncommon thing for an alien to pay $3 to $4 for the delivery of a piece of baggage from a New York City rail terminal to a New York City dock.
Still another abuse is practiced on aliens. Agents of transfer companies take up the baggage checks on the train — not in the way they take up an American's, by request, but by demand —giving the alien a cheek marked "Office." The alien, thinking the transfer agent is a train official, with his official cap and badge, gives up his check. When he finds over what line he is sailing and wants his baggage delivered, he pays twenty-five cents " office cheek " fee, plus the regular transfer, regardless of the time the baggage is in the "office." This is done where the baggage has not been taken to the office of the transfer company from the station and no service has been rendered other than exchanging the checks. In a test ease, this "office fee" was charged an alien who called at the transfer office at the rail terminal and carried his own trunk away from the station room.
The records of this Bureau are replete with complaints of lost, misguided or overcharged aliens, delayed and exploited under the present methods. At any transfer hotel on any morning of sailing, as much as fifty percent of the passengers complain of overcharges, misunderstanding, bad treatment, or confusion in tickets and routes. Day after day men are left behind through the competition and negligence of these hotels or the inefficiency of their runners.
There is something radically wrong with a. business system which loses money for passengers; enables them to be misguided, robbed and detained; makes them pay special rates for baggage, and even bonuses as high as $5 to have their tickets stamped on the docks in times of rush; and fifty cents for having their trunks labeled.
There is something wrong when fifty out of every one hundred persons come into New York City thinking they have paid for something they do not get; when they are charged regular night hotel rates whether they arrive at midnight and sit on a chair all night, or whether they arrive at 5 or 6 a. In., and stand out on -the sidewalk. They pay hotel rates for such standing room on a public thoroughfare.
Summary and Remedies.- It must be remembered that the Bureau has had but a year in Which to deal with an immensely complicated matter extending far beyond its jurisdiction and involving interstate commerce.
There are so many parties to the transaction that progress has - been slow.
First, there is the agent, frequently in another city or state, who collects all of the charges. In the latter instance his acts are beyond the jurisdiction of this State. In cases brought to the Bureau where he has overcharged or misrepresented, the general agent in New York City has been held responsible, and wherever the alien could stay and prosecute, the Bureau has been successful.
Usually, however, the Bureau receives the complaint the day before or on the morning of sailing, 'so there is little time for investigation — a fact relied upon by the parties to the exploitation.
So far as agents in this State are concerned, the Bureau has had the laws amended governing the sale of tickets by authorized agents, and requiring independent agents and peddlers to be licensed. As these amendments went into effect September 1st, and as this Bureau has but five field agents for the entire State, a fair test of their efficiency has not been made. (Note 3)
Whenever violations have been called to the attention of the steamship lines, they have shown a readiness to take action. The difficulty is that, with the present force, violations cannot be detected in a state with 1,013 authorized agents and some (estimated) 4,000 or 5,000 peddlers. Ender section 1503-4 of the Penal Law an investigation of 235 agents showed that seventy-four had not complied with the law in posting their authorizations.
These were kept in desks and safes, and in twenty-one instances, agents were advertising as the agents of lines for which they had no authorization. Whenever a test case has been brought against peddlers, they have agreed to comply with the law and discontinue the sale of tickets, so no decision has been obtained under the law.
It is not enforced, however, and the peddlers are acting in open defiance of it. The Bureau has not been able to secure such cooperation front the steamship lives as would result in wiping out the abuses attending the sale of such tickets and overcharges, although the rules of the Conferences prohibit such sales. It is one of the matters remaining to be more thoroughly dealt with.
Section 1564 which specifies that only bona fide orders on transportation linen shall be sold and what they shall bear on their face, has been most effective. The evils so prevalent during the investigations of the State Immigration Commission, caused by irresponsible persons issuing their own personal orders, which were not binding on any line, have apparently been eliminated with the exception of one line whose operations are now under investigation. The efficiency of this law is best shown by contrast with other states. A number of defective orders or tickets have come to the attention of the Bureau, but 'they were not issued in this State. (Note 4)
Second, there is the immigrant agent of the rail line. Although this situation is complicated by the fact that most of the terminals are in Jersey City, in three instances the attention of the railroads has been called to the fact that their immigrant agents were receiving commissions from runners for directing or diverting alien passengers, and in two instances the men were removed and the system improved.
The supervision of this work is, on the whole, defective, a thing not true of the other branches of the railroad passenger service, this service being considered a favor to the passengers rather than a part of the railroad's transit obligation. The systems in use in the various terminals also differ so greatly that there cannot be said to be standard of such service.
As an illustration of what can be done, one railway, upon. complaint from this Bureau, installed a new system which operates as follows:
Immigrants on arriving at the station from inland cities are all taken into the immigration room at the terminal. Then one runner at a time is admitted into the room, where he calls out the names of the immigrants consigned to his hotel. He is not permitted to take any one else but those for whom he has a requisition. When he leaves the room with the immigrants in his charge, the next runner is admitted and he goes through the same process.
All immigrants remaining in the room, whether consigned and not called for, or unconsigned, are taken in charge by the immigrant agent, and sent to the respective steamers in charge of one of his assistants. On arrival at the dock of the steamer, the agent in charge of the immigrants collects their tickets, takes them direct to the office, has them stamped without delay, returns to the people in. his charge, gives them back their tickets, and sees to it that they all get on board before he departs. He also attends to the checking of their baggage on the dock.
The immigrant agent will not accept any tips whatsoever from an immigrant, whether offered voluntarily or otherwise. The system of the agent having all the tickets stamped for the men in his charge, is quite a contrast to that of the various transfer companies who tell their men to get in line to have their tickets stamped and they are often seen in line when the gangway of the steamer is lowered and the vessel leaves the dock. This railway also has a receipt system, whereby the agent in the interior receives a return card stating that the passenger was put on the steamer by the immigrant agent at the time named on the card.
Third, there are the bookers, runners and porters. Previous to the assumption of all immigration regulation by the Federal Government, the Commission of Emigration licensed bookers and runners. When the Commission went out of existence, these laws were re-enacted in the New York City charter, but without a body designated to enforce them. Although the first two laws are still on the statute books, only seventy-nine runners are licensed by the police while no bookers are licensed.
Furthermore, the law regarding runners applies only to those who solicit patronage, and therefore has been held not to apply to those who receive consigned passengers only. All runners for hotels claim they receive only consigned passengers and evade the law on. this ground. It carries no penalty for violations, other than the forfeit of the $300 bond required. The section, however, may be amended by the Board of Aldermen. As there is no appropriation or force for detecting violations, its effectiveness depends upon the complaints made. There are as many licensed as unlicensed runners, so there is little use in making complaints. Twenty-nine only are licensed.
The legal situation is further complicated by the fact that porters are regulated by ordinance instead of statute and are licensed by the city Bureau of Licenses— an entirely separate department. The bureau has insufficient funds and investigators, and many porters do not take the trouble to obtain licenses. Two hundred and seventy-eight are licensed.
As the duties are much the same as those of runners, when a complaint is brought and a license revoked in either Bureau, the porter or runner, as the ease may be, applies at the other Bureau, or does business without a license, as there are no means of identification in either Bureau. When a license is revoked by both Bureaus, the runner changes his name and begins all over again or works for some other runner. As most of the transactions of runners and porters with aliens are in a foreign language and on transit lines and in hotels, as well as on. thoroughfares, the police cannot possibly detect the abuses.
No adequate protection can ever be given the alien in New York City until;
- the laws licensing porters and runners are repealed and a stringent law passed regulating the practices of both of these agents; or
- the licensing of both porters and runners is placed in one Bureau, the fee and bond increased, duties defined and penalties imposed for violations of law. This will be wholly ineffective if adequate appropriations and investigators are not provided. The fees for licenses would in themselves constitute the necessary fund, if so appropriated.
The abuses due to runners taking transportation tickets, the Bureau has endeavored to remedy by the passage of a bill prohibiting such runners from soliciting the passage ticket. (Note 5) This law went into effect September 1st, and already numerous protests have been received from hotel men to the effect that its enforcement interferes with the present system. This shows how deeply involved the hotel is in the through transportation of aliens.
Representatives of the emigrant hotels are granted annual dock passes by the Collector of the Port for the purpose of meeting steamers. As another way of preventing abuses, after a conference with Commissioner William Williams and the Chief Investigator of the Bureau, Collector Loeb issued a new set of regulations governing such holders of passes. (Note 6) As holding an annual pass is a valuable privilege to the hotel, the influence of these regulations has been wholesome.
Fourth, there is the hotel itself. Reference has already been made to the obsolete law requiring them to be licensed. Emigrant hotels, of which there are about twenty-five in New York City, have a number of special characteristics.
They deal primarily with through east or west bound immigrants, usually of one nationality; employ runners who act as guides for passengers; have contracts with express companies or run an express wagon service of their own, for the delivery of guests and baggage; receive consigned passengers by designation of buttons, cards or orders sent in from ticket agents; sell steamship and rail tickets on commission, and some member of the firm is usually a duly authorized steamship agent; frequently let such privileges as the sale of jewelry, or putting up of train lunch boxes to persons who are given the freedom of the place; exchange money; and act as " outfitters " to green aliens desiring to acquire. an American appearance.
These hotels serve a very useful purpose, and they should be retained and made to render the services for which they now charge. From an investigation made of each of these transactions, the Bureau was convinced that only supervision would remedy the existing abuses.
A conference of the hotel men was called and a frank expression was given by those present of the difficulties under which they compete. Many methods not hitherto understood were explained, and the Bureau caused the introduction and secured the passage of a bill licensing immigrant lodging places, which went into effect September 1st.
There has been but one month in. which to test this law, and that has been chiefly taken up with the organization of the work. The law provides for the licensing and regulation of all immigrant lodging places throughout the State, such places being defined as "any place, boarding-house, lodging-house, inn or hotel where principally immigrants or emigrants while in transit., or aliens are received, lodged, boarded or harbored," and excludes places maintained or conducted by charitable, philanthropic or religious associations, as well as temporary sleeping quarters in labor or construction camps. (Note 7)
Each applicant for a license is required to file with the Bureau a verified statement containing detailed information regarding the applicant's business, such as location, capacity, rates, charges for special services, names and addresses of employees and how compensated, other business connections, etc., together with satisfactory proof of the good moral character of the applicant.
In addition thereto, it is further required that there be presented a bond to the People of the State of New York, with two or more sureties or of an approved surety company
"conditioned that the obligor shall obey all laws, rules and regulations applicable to such immigrant lodging place prescribed by any lawful authority, and that such obligor shall discharge all obligations and pay all damages, loss and injuries which shall accrue to any person or persons dealing with such licensee, by reason of any contract or other obligations of such licensee or resulting from any fraud or deceit, or other wrongful act of said licensee or of his servants or agents in connection with the business so licensed."
Any person. aggrieved can bring an action' for the enforcement of such bond. On the approval of the application. and of the bond filed therewith, the Commissioner of Labor is empowered to issue a license, which may be revoked by the Commissioner of Labor on notice to the licensee and for cause shown. Any person or any officer of a corporation, who violates any of the provisions of this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Considerable time has been taken up in drafting, translating and printing the numerous forms and pamphlets necessary for the proper explanation and enforcement of the various provisions of the law. The regulations finally adopted have been issued in four languages, and the rate cards required to be posted are printed by the Bureau in the various languages, furnished free, and signed by the executive officer of the Bureau, in order to insure a uniform standard and make it possible for the alien to know the terms and conditions under which the hotel has agreed to lodge him (Note 8)
Under this law no transfer houses have as yet been licensed, but twenty applications are pending until certain recommended changes have been made. It is too early to anticipate the effect of this law in the short month of its enforcement, but emigrant hotel-keepers have shown every wish to understand and obey the law.
Fifth, the charges by expressmen and cabmen are matters of local regulation entirely. This Bureau has made complaints wherever violations were found, and several licenses have been revoked. Expressmen defy the license law with impunity and there are scores of them unlicensed in the city. Inadequate inspection and lack of appropriations are again at fault. The matter of licenses in the city and the proper enforcement of laws pertaining to them should be made a matter of investigation, as the city does not provide the present Bureau of Licenses with facilities for enforcement.
Sixth, there are the general agents of the various lines. They are responsible for the character of the agents appointed and for the regulations governing them. The present system, which requires that a ticket shall be stamped at the general office or on the docks before sailing, is responsible for many abuses. This is the excuse given by hotel runners for taking up the tickets on the arrival of the alien, who is rarely informed that he can have his ticket stamped on the dock and need not turn it over to the hotel.
Fees as high as $5 are charged by runners for this service when steamers are crowded. Investigators of this Bureau have seen long lines in front of the dock offices, waiting throughout the morning, while. runners went in and out the rear door having tickets stamped for a fee of $1 to $5. Those in the line in front were thus left behind though they may have had their tickets weeks before.
Notwithstanding the efforts made by this Bureau along the various lines indicated, one thing has been growing constantly clearer. There are at least seven parties to one through transaction and only two of these the steamship agent who sells the ticket and the steamship agent who stamps it, entitling the man to sail — are really responsible.
Everyone else is working for his own interest, and is responsible to some one other than the steamship line, and yet the alien would never buy his combined rail and steamship ticket unless it presented some advantages. The present system, as shown by the most incontrovertible evidence in the Bureau, constitutes one of the most stupendous avenues for petty exploitation and misrepresentation existing in this country today and spreads to every small hamlet where such agents operate.
The hardships resulting are almost beyond belief. Appended are a few of the many affidavits showing what happens to the alien stranded by such methods, for those who wish to read the human stories of suffering with which this Bureau has daily to deal, not only righting wrongs, securing justice, but often directing aliens to such charitable persons as will enable them to proceed on their journey after they have parted with their last funds. (Note 9)
Believing that the only remedy for these abuses lies in the installation of a good transportation system for this city, which shall include both persons and baggage, the Bureau has held a series of four conferences, one with the hotel men, one with rail line representatives, one with the steamship line representatives, and a joint conference with the last two named, for the purpose of considering the installation of such a system.
The matters presented at these conferences were not new to those assembled. Each representative was familiar with the evils, and many of them had made efforts to stop the abuses. They have succeeded at different points just as the Bureau has at others, but the time has come when only combined efforts can eliminate the widespread graft and abuses.
The plan proposed at these conferences by the Bureau is briefly as follows:
That a transit company shall be started in New York City for the purpose of (1) delivering east bound passengers and their bag- gage at the docks or at hotels; (2) delivering westbound through second cabin passengers to the stations or hotels; and (8) delivering steerage passengers from Ellis Island destined to New York City and adjacent points to their destinations.
As conditions to the success of such a venture, there must be agreements relative to eastbound business:
- Steamship agents shall not be permitted to sell hotel accommodations, baggage transfer or guide service to any intending passenger, but they may direct him or give him the name of a hotel;
- railway carriers shall install a system by which the intending passenger holding a steamship ticket shall have his baggage checked directly to the dock, and shall sell a coupon with the rail ticket entitling the passenger to such transfer to a hotel or dock. If the hotel is known, the name shall be placed on the back of the coupon ticket. If the alien is delivered to a hotel he shall be receipted for and a note made of his ticket number and sailing, and the steamship agent selling him the ticket notified;
- emigrant agents in charge of distribution at each terminal shall be employed by and subject to the supervision of the transit company, which shall adopt uniform regulations. All runners, shall be prohibited in every station and sufficient protection given outside the stations. Passengers arriving on the morning of sailing shall, whenever possible, be delivered directly to the dock;
- the method of stamping steamship tickets shall be so changed as to enable the passenger at all times to retain his steamship ticket;
- instructions regarding this service shall be printed in various languages and distributed by rail and steamship lines to passengers.
For westbound second cabin business, the proposed transfer company shall utilize the same system for through second cabin passengers, delivering them to the hotels or rail terminals and checking their baggage through. Emigration agents, under the control of the transit company, shall perform the same services as at the rail terminals. If it is feasible to sell orders on the other side and on board the steamer, it is feasible to check their baggage through, and to provide guide service instead of leaving the passenger to the mercy of the runners, porters, expressmen and cabmen.
For steerage passengers bound for New York City, the experiment made by the North American Civic League for Immigrants during the past year is called to the attention of the companies. For a small charge, this organization tickets on Ellis Island any person desiring to be delivered. If a friend, meets him, or for any reason the service is not rendered, the fee is returned, or a visit is made to the address to ascertain if all is well with the alien. This is a service which can be much better rendered by a transfer company, and the service should be offered abroad or on board ship and not in the rush of release from Ellis Island. The North American Civic League for Immigrants has demonstrated that there is a need for such a service.
As a result of the conferences held, a joint committee consisting of five steamship representatives and five railway representatives is at work upon this proposed scheme.
Note 1: See Chart IV on Transportation.
Note 2: Report of North American Civic League for immigrants, 1911.
Note 3: Appendix II for text of laws.
Note 4: For the banking operations of such agents see page 82
Note 5: Appendix III for text of law.
Note 6: Appendix IV for text of regulations.
Note 7: Appendix V for text of law.
Note 8: Appendix VI for rules and regulations.
Note 9: Appendix VII for statements of aliens.
NEW YORK SPATE. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, FIRST ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES AND IMMIGRATION, FOR THE TWELVE MONTHS ENDED SEPTEMBER 30, 1911. TRANSMITTED TO THE LEGISLATURE MARCH 6, 1912, AS PART OF THE ELEVENTH REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.